Monday, June 8, 2015

standing laptop computer station installed

Finally got the laptop standing workstation installed today. I sunk most of the important screws into studs behind the walls. Always a stressful moment fitting ergonomic furniture to 100+year old walls. I posted a video at the bottom of the how one could use the assembly in both a seated and standing orientation.
Here's the unit in action.

Friday, June 5, 2015

standing laptop computer station progress

More progress getting Sarah's standup/sitdown workstation sorted. Her birthday is next Saturday, and I am confident I'll have it installed before then. Below, see the laptop shelf at right next to keyboard mouse tray. When installed the shelf will actually be on the facing adjacent wall, at 90deg. Height adjusted for both fixtures using 5/16" bolts with nuts press-epoxied into wooden knobs.

the keyboard shelf is hinged with an original door hinge from the house that was removed during remodel. It's a gorgeous old Stanley sweetheart brass thing. Kind of sloppy motion for this application, but I enjoyed reusing the hardware for this. Notice the tension knob is recessed into the keyboard shelf. Normal operation would require sarah to remove the keyboard/trackmouse from the tray when folding up, but that's OK.

The laptop shelf has a full 19" of vertical translational movement because it also serves as a perch for the laptop when seated. It's best to not hunch over when looking at your lap top, and by elevating the screen to eye level, it should foster good posture.

Monday, May 25, 2015

standing keyboard and rodent-input tray proof of concept

a corner of our guest bedroom functions as sarah's writing desk and recently she had expressed interest in a standing desk for her laptop. I'm going to make a keyboard tray that bolts to the wall and folds up like in this video below. There will also be an adjustable height shelf in the adjacent wall where her laptop will perch and approx eye level. Everything should fold up as conveniently as is possible, without interruption of thought. twist knobs will fine tune the height of the components. Wireless keyboards/track-pads will be used.

There should also be room for a cup of coffee to spill off the top of the ledge. Welcome the splashes.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

workshop cabinet countertop installed and ready to roll

finally got the countertop installed, and all the drawers populated with crap that had been hanging out on open shelves coated in thick layers of dust and goo. best part is now the west end of the shop is clear of open shelving that housed things that should never have been there given my workflow. Screws and hardware are closer to where I actually apply them instead of being on the opposite end of the garage.
The countertop is just 1/4 masonite, atop 3/4 cbx ply, and then a 2x4 frame. There's another long stick of 2x material on front with a few coats of water based poly to take a beatin'. Gotta mount my grinder before too long. That will be my sharpening area, close to the workbench. The water bucket on ammo cans below the bench is where I keep the sharpening stones.
I still keep a fair number of the important hand tools in my japanese toolbox in the corner there. some of the heavier bench planes have been relocated to drawers but we'll see how it goes.
A neighborhood kid was here with his brother for the afternoon. He stepped onto the threshold of the garage and said he likes to paint. I thought: "well that's definitely the best thing that I've heard in about 45 months!" I asked him what color he likes and he said "blue". So we set him up with a brush and some of the surplus milk paint from the cabinets. he sat for about 45 minutes painting the model of our house that i made couple years ago testing out designs for our remodel. Stick around, kid. I'll have some canvases stretched on frames for ya next time :-)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

workshop cabinetry progress

Well I've been busy making plywood boxes inside boxes. Working with sheets of plywood tests the muscular endurance quite a bit. Feeling pretty beat up but I think this cabinet/drawer installation will really help keep a lot tools/supplies/documentation out of the dust shroud that covers every surface here.

I used 3/4 birch ply for the cabinet carcasses with whatever extra scraps of cbx ply were kicking around the shop. Drawers and drawer fronts are 1/2" with 1/4" bottoms. Used lock-rabbet joints for drawer boxes. Full extension 75# sidemount drawer slides from Lee Valley when they had free shipping recently. they work okay, but demand you be really accurate with your drawer box sizes. I did okay, none of them were binding irretrevably and I didn't need to shim them.

This is General Finish's Milk Paint that I mixed in various amounts of Corinth Blue, Black, and Brick Red. I wanted to aim for a slate-purple but nobody around here sees it as purple. I'm colorblind and so it looked OK to me when I mixed it. I like the flat/velvety finish of milk paint well. It will scuff up a bit and that's OK.

I have my hand-tool box perched on the two ammo cans there temporarily. That space will open underneath the counter. I'll position the grinder and various sharpening habiliments on the countertop there eventually. Maybe a pattern maker's vice, too, if I can find one.

Sarah thought i was being pretty clever with my plywood portaging hack here, but there are plenty of ideas on the web of folks doing something similar. It really helps and I highly recommend you make yourself one if you're carrying even one sheet around. I can and have injured myself carrying these sheets around. My shoulders, and back do not regret it at all!

Here, i'm a bit farther along, all the drawerfronts have been applied, and there's a 2x4 web that I'm stringing across there for the "countertop" which will be 3/4 cbx ply and then 1/4 masonite.

Here are my quick-n-dirty drawer-pulls. You can imagine these being done on the tablesaw, first rabbet the edge of a board along the length, then rip to thickness, then cut the resulting stick to 4" segments, then a jig/sled that holds them at 45deg to take that last little nibble out. They are easy to grab hold of in the shop though probably not what you'd want to use in a more domestic setting :-)

the 1/2" plywood had a fair number of voids in it at $33.88 per sheet from MacBeath lumber in Berkeley.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

looking for construction techniques on intersecting compound curves

I always admired that quote by Jean Prouve: "never design something that cannot be made". here I am, flaunting that advice and wading into the deep end of the pool.

wondering how the heck i'm going to implement the following, a back to the built-in trundle bed for our guest room. overall dimensions are roughly 72" longx18" high, by about 42" depth. The trundle bed is built into the corner of the room, so this "headboard" wraps around the bed along the wall.

The idea being one could relax in an upright position and read or watch youtube videos or whatever. I wanted to make a little curve to the back for comfort, and a curve to the edges to soften the overall appearance of the structure.

So how do you make this? My running plan is a frame-and-panel approach, with coopered panels, and curved stiles. The problem is how to jig-up and route a stile groove that curves in two directions.

Edit: more on ticking sticks as a means to transfer one curve to another

Sunday, January 11, 2015

getting to know the Grizzly G1023RLW Table Saw (plus 1st project)

I'd been weighing the choice to get a table saw for years. Up to now, I got by without one through my hand saws, or a circular saw. But there are certain things I want to do where a tablesaw has an advantage, like accurate, reproducible crosscuts. or building cabinets from sheet goods. With a bathroom and kitchen remodel on my horizon, I'm hoping my table saw can get me through a lot of grunt work.

I also know it's a machine with a reputation of biting you badly if you mistreat it. I intend to operate the saw with my best discipline

I chose this Grizzly for many reasons.

  • Lots of positive reviews on forums. Here's a compelling youtube video by professional turner Stephen Ogle
  • a very accurate fence,
  • a router insert on the right side table.
  • I've had good success with the Grizzly band saw and drill press
  • Good customer service
  • Made in Taiwan
  • ~$1500 delivered to my door
  • it has more than enough power for me now (with some room to grow into with working more challenging woods).

It arrived mid December 2014 via lift gate to by driveway. Here it is in it's current formation.

The crate was well intact when I received it, I fabbed up a sturdy dolly to ease it back into my shop. luckily i had some old OSB that improvised as tracks through the perilous ginger rock sea in our garden. this was arduous.
The thing came well packed, everything had its place. no missing parts, lots of documentation. also lots of that rust protectant on the cast iron pieces. I believe the call it cosmolene. Look at those gorgeous hand wheels. They are sweet to the touch.
Some hours pass since the preceding photo and the one below. That's the shaft that a gear attaches to, for tilting the trunnion. It's bent because I managed to tip the saw over while getting it onto the mobile base. landed right on the tilt wheel. That was a bad moment. so bad, i couldn't even cuss. Try not to do that.

Grizzly tech support was very helpful, and they had a spare tilt shaft in their warehouse for something like $8 and change. I followed his instructions to verify that there was no damage to the trunnions. Since it was a slow tip-over onto a plywood floor, it seemed like the damage was localized to the shaft itself.

the upshot is that I had a week to spend removing caked on cosmoline, and waxing the gorgeous, flat machined table tops.

Since I had to take the table off and get into the guts of the machine to replace the tilt shaft, I knew I'd be on the hook to completely dial in the table alignment with the trunion. You're supposed to calibrate the machine anyway, but apparently these things tend to come from the factory in remarkably fair tune. It was good practice.

here, I'm doing my best to establish blade to miter slot parallelism. Using a 1/64th rule to measure the distance. I used the combo square to make sure the rule was perpendicular to the miter slot as possible.

Here are a few views of the arrangement. Previously I had built some 34" high roller tables that I use for all sorts of purposes in my shop, primarily for breaking down sheet goods with my track saw. very handy with lockable casters. They're about a 1/2" short of the tablesaw height, so I quickly fabbed up some outfeed planks from scrap ply. this just sits ontop of one of the tables, and the spacing allows for miter sleds to run through without interference. It works okay for now.
An accurate crosscut sled was next on the agenda. I read plans from lots of folks, tried setting the fence using the William Ng method where you take 5 successive cuts from a rectangular piece and on the last cut measure the difference in width front to back of the resulting piece. I only have a caliper measuring to 1/64th, so i'm not going to fuss too much about it. Probably the more appropriate test for me would be to cut a board in 2, flip one side and see if the edges line up OK.
Here's a panel sled, hopefully good for squaring off larger panels when doing casework.
I added a larger wood fence to the miter guage that came with the saw. The thing did not come predrilled with any way to attach the fence, so I had to drill out the holes. Luckily the metal was soft enough that my cordless drill made quick work of it.
Here's a view of the splitter/guard assy. I tried using it for a couple through cuts. Boy it really is hard to see what you're cutting with this thing in place.
For my first project, I wanted to build a roller chest of drawers like you see for automotive tools. I wanted something similar for my garage and this seemed like a low-key way to get used to the new saw. The objective was to build something as square as possible, fitting directly from the saw. This will become important as I tackle other cabinetry projects for the garage, bathroom and eventually the kitchen.

So here it is, 32" high, 20" wide, made of crappy birch ply. Waterbased poly for finish. cutting techniques used:

  • Rabbet for back pannel
  • dado/rabbet drawer box joints (from Bob Lang's Kitchen Cabinetry book -- solid read!)
  • Dados
close up of the drawer joint. Used a 1/4" dado stack.